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New mobile device management features in Apple's iOS 6 has piqued the interest of several channel and IT executives, who say the latest update to Apple's mobile OS could help accelerate corporate demand for the company's iPhones and iPads.
A new Supervised Mode for iOS devices available through Apple Configurator will make it easy for MSPs and corporate IT departments to remotely track and manage Apple devices, said John Marshall, CEO of AirWatch, an Atlanta-based MDM developer, but channel partners need to be aware of all the policies and features to properly support the devices.
"It allows solution providers and internal enterprises to change a little bit of the DNA. You can put it in Supervised Mode and point to additional lock-down policies. For corporate line-of-business devices in retail, healthcare, bank branches, the supervisor mode using Configurator is a real advantage for the security on the device," Marshall said.
AirWatch's own solution has added new MDM functionality to iOS 6 including the ability to disable shared Photo Stream and Passbook and automatically removing profiles at a certain date. In addition, AirWatch, leveraging the new supervisor mode, can also lock down devices, force all network traffic through one global HTTP proxy, disable iMessage and prevent the installation of certificates or unmanaged configuration profiles, according to Marshall.
"The overall message is companies continue to look for a helping hand. The way MSPs started [managing iOS devices] is maybe taking an iPad and putting an asset tag and some initial configuration on it," Marshall said. "But, you're starting to see then taking some support calls. Now an MSP can build a comprehensive practice by putting it into supervised modes to assure best practices are staged on that device, and make sure from a help desk perspective."
As more companies look to support iOS devices, whether it's through BYOD or corporate-owned devices given to employees, the ability to control those devices becomes more important, Marshall said. There is ample opportunity for solution providers and managed service providers to support those initiatives around iOS, but they need to invest in training around that platform, he added.
"The number one thing that solution providers need to do is become familiar with the policies around Apple Configurator. For example, once something is under Supervised Mode in the future you have to use the same Mac to take it out of Supervised Mode or make any major changes to it," Marshall said. "I'm not sure if a lot of people think about that. There are a couple policies that will be important to MSPs to the rules of engagement around Configurator."